Tour of Duty 11 - Some Will Say It's Just A Comic Book

Billy Tucci: Tour of Duty #11

Some will say, “It’s just a comic book.”

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months…

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force wrote those words that were then printed out given to every participant in the Invasion of Normandy on the June the 6th, 1944.

Since childhood, General Eisenhower’s words have inspired me, but never have the resonated for strongly as they do today, on the eve of my dream project becoming a reality as “Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion – Day 1” hits the stands on Wednesday, November 5th 2008.

My own personal D Day.

You see, after college I joined the Army National Guard. It was during my basic, infantry and airborne training that my wife, (then girlfriend) would send me a weekly batch of comics – which I would share with my buddies, but most didn’t care much for the superhero stuff – what they literally fought over were the surprise editions of Sgt. Rock (which had ceased to be published years before) she would include in the packages. I would freak out as some yokel would discard my latest X-Men to the barracks floor, but the Sgt. Rock’s were always handled with the utmost respect and care. I relived and regaled the hours of enjoyment I had gotten out of those old comics I had collected during childhood and it was here, during my stay in the nasty swamps of Ft. Benning, GA where I had promised myself that someday I too would write and draw Sgt. Rock. A few years later, the mild success of Shi took me in a totally different direction but my dream always remained the same.

Now I am on the verge of this dream coming true.

I’ve spent many months researching, writing and drawing Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion and have met many wonderful friends who have guided and inspired me along the way. I have traveled to Holland and France to follow the steps of Easy Company, where I walked the beaches of Normandy, and climbed the mountains of the Vosges Forest. I have seen the foxholes of Hill 679 and touched the white crosses at St. Laurent and Epinal. I have been honored to represent the United States of America during a memorial service in the French town Bruyeres and left my dog tags in a tree in Ste.-Mere-Eglise. Most important of all, I have met French partisans and the families and veterans of the 141st and 442nd infantry regiments who have generously given me their time and incomparable recounts of those dark days and friendship.

Some may say, “It’s just a comic book”, and I’m being totally and pretentiously overblown in my sentiments. My only answer to such a statement is that, again this is indeed my dream project -- one that has reinvigorated my love of comics and afforded me such feelings of joy, anxiety and anticipation I haven’t felt since the debut of “Shi #1” fourteen years ago. Above that it has also been a life changing experience that I’ll never forget. I have learned so much about a horribly dark time in history and of those who rescued humanity from evil.

Mr. Kubert told me upon looking at the pages of the first three issues, that “this is a real labor of love for you.” I want to ensure him and everyone at DC Comics that I am giving my all to honor Joe and Mr. Kanigher’s amazing character. I would also like to offer my sincerest thanks to editor Michael Marts, his assistant, Janelle Siegel, Mark Sparacio and colorist Brian Miller for all their hard work and devotion to the project. Of course, I cannot express my deepest appreciation to Dan DiDio and Paul Levitz for having the faith in offering such an icon as “Sgt. Rock” to a mere “bad girl artist.”

General Eisenhower also wrote that on June 5th 1944 that in event that the D Day landings had failed, "if there is any blame or fault in the attempt, it is my own…"

I understand Ike’s concerns as any failures or technical missteps of this series will be soley my own. But it is obviously too late for me to worry any longer as the book is at the printer and will be in stores on Wednesday. But lord, I cannot help but I wonder if this series will be a success or not. After all, this is my first crack at the mainstream as a writer and artist, and who am I to think I even deserve Sgt. Rock?

My only solace is to recall what it is to be a paratrooper, to know you are always outnumbered, always surrounded and not want it any other way – case in point…

Just before daylight on June the 6th, 1944, elements of the 3rd Battalion, 505th PIR (82nd Airborne Division) raised the stars and stripes over the government hall of Ste.-Mere-Eglise. In the midst of one hundred thousand German troops and the sea born landings yet to commence, LTC. Edward’s Krause’s paratroopers had just liberated the first town in France. As the soldiers were setting up whatever defenses they could against the coming German panzers, Lt. James Coyle recalled a frightened Frenchman coming out of his house to anxiously ask “if this was a raid or an invasion”. The 24-year-old reassured him with no hesitation in his best high-school French and replied:

“Nous Restons Ici” – We stay here.”

At that moment, the people of Ste.-Mere-Eglise new the Americans would never leave them and would fight to the end. Hopefully, if I have done my job right and “The Lost Battalion” is a success, the same will be said of future issues of Sgt. Rock…

And I hope we can all go along together, just like Easy Company.

Go For Broke

Billy Tucci

Ambassadeur, De La Region De Bruyeres, Vosges, France

Sgt. Rock’s Tour Of Heroes

As I’ve done in San Diego, Las Vegas and Baltimore, I’ll be bringing along some very special guests to my Sgt. Rock signings – World War Two Veterans and the stars of Sgt. Rock’s Tour of Heroes.

DC Comics’ The Lost Battalion is based on the events of October 1944, where 275 men of the 141st Infantry were trapped and surrounded by thousands of German troops bent on their complete annihilation. For six days and nights, the Texans supplied only by P47 fighter/bombers, fought one of the most brutal last stands in history and their ultimate rescue by the embattled Japanese Americans of the 442nd RCT is unequalled in casualties and valor.

I am especially honored to have befriended so many 442nd veterans whose unit stands among the most decorated in U.S. Army history. As the sacrifice of these men, who were all volunteers is just staggering, especially when you think that so many died for another’s freedom while their own families were incarcerated behind barbed wire here in the United States.”

I’m referring to the heinous incarceration of over 100,000 Japanese Americans during the Second World War in FDR’s “interment camps” – rounded up with no hearings or trial, their only crime being that of their heritage.

My ultimate goal, above and beyond any sort of sales or personal recognition is that in the future, when a fan reads a book or sees a film or documentary on the 141st, the 442nd or the 405th Fighter Squadron they can then turn to their children and say, “I met one of those great men once.”

On the “Tour of Heroes” all the veterans will share their wartime and post war experiences with the fans and sign free “Sgt. Rock” prints graciously produced by DC. Meeting these men has been the greatest honor of my life and hopefully this Tour will serve as a fitting tribute to these humble heroes, who in sacrificing so much of themselves for freedom, ended up saving the world. We really need to let them know how appreciated and loved they truly are.

Cards, Comics and Collectibles Marc Nathan added that “this is an incredibly rare opportunity to share a special day with these heroes and a learn an amazing lesson in history by those who lived it.”

Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion Day One l be celebrated with a launch party at “A Comic Shop” in Winter Park, Florida on November 5th with guests Mark McKenna and Mike Perkins.

November 5th 2008

A Comic Shop

114 S Semoran Blvd

Winter Park, FL 32792

(407) 332 - 9636

http://www.myspace.com/acomicshop

www.acomicshop.com

November 7-9th 2008

Wizard World Texas

Special Guest of Honor LTC Eliel “Arch” Archilla of the 405th fighter squadron

Arlington Convention Center,

1200 Ball Park Way

Arlington, Texas 76011

www.wizarduniverse.com

November 12th 2008

Cards Comics & Collectibles

442nd RCT veterans Kelly Kuwayama, Terry Shima and Merrill’s Marauder’s Grant Hirabayashi

100 Chartley Dr

Reisterstown, MD 21136

(410) 526-7410

November 14-16th 2008

The National Comic Con

36th Infantry Division veteran James Matheis and Special Guest Russ Heath!

Penn Plaza Pavilion


401 Seventh Avenue at 33rd St.

New York, N.Y., 10001-2062

http://www.bigapplecon.com/index.htm

December 6th 2008

Premier Comics

442nd veterans Kenneth Inada and Arthur Nishimoto

7445 S. Durango Drive, Suite 104

Las Vegas, Nevada 89113

PH# 702.750.0813

Webpage: www.premiercomicslv.com

Email: premiercomicslv@gmail.com

Myspace: PremierComicsL

December 12th & 13th

Wonderworld Comics

442nd veteran Virgil Nishimura Westdale, author Mark Bando and 101st Airborne veteran Donald Burgett

22347 Ecorse Rd

Taylor, MI 48180

(313) 292-8697

www.wonderworldcomics.com

Comic Talk discussion group 7pm-10pm, Friday December 12th no autograph signing there, just a friendly discussion.

Saturday December 13th, Noon-1pm store Q/A - 1pm-5pm signing with the veterans.

Please understand that all Veterans appearances are tentative for personal reasons.

Previous:

Tour of Duty: Painting Rock

Tour of Duty: Covering Sgt. Rock

Tour of Duty: The Real Reason for The Lost Battalion

Tour of Duty: Memorial Day: Never Forget Them

Hellion for Hire: Tour of Duty 1

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